Within the realm of foods we eat, kelp isn’t something most people would consider food, let alone a super food. In some countries, such as the coastal areas of Japan, kelp is an ingredient commonly used in their diets. The Japanese believe it’s one of the reasons behind their longevity. The components of kelp do make it a goldmine of nutrients.

A common variety of seaweed, kelp grows in coastal regions around the world. Usually found growing thickly on shorelines, the size of a plant can range from being small, or up to the size of a tree as in the case of the Giant Kelp. With its vital nutrients kelp is an important food source for marine life.

Those same nutrients have many health benefits for us too! Some of these include cancer prevention, thyroid regulation, and weight management. Of the many health benefits, kelp is known to have one of the highest concentrations of iodine. This is a mineral essential to thyroid health. Iodine helps regulate the thyroid gland and the body’s energy. It’s also important for health skin, hair and nails.

Aside from iodine, kelp is a valuable resource for other nutrients as well. It’s contains an assortment of vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, amino acids, omega-3 fats and soluble fiber. This super food has valuable concentrations of potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, calcium, iron, riboflavin, niacin and boron. It’s also a good source of vitamins A, B12, B6, C and E. Iron in kelp is good for preventing anemia, which is low levels of iron in the blood. Antioxidants are known to fight free radicals which can cause certain cancers.

According to Webmd, kelp has also been found to be a source of a mineral called Vanadium. This mineral is being studied for its ability to regulate the production of insulin and blood sugar. This would be a valuable asset in the control of diabetes.

Adding kelp to your diet is as easy as going to the store. Kelp is often found in the Asian section of your regular grocery store, or in local health food markets. It can be eaten raw, cooked, powered, or in supplements. Choosing fresh, organic kelp is the best source of its nutrients. Dried kelp can easily be added to soups or stews. For a different take on pasta, try kelp noodles. They are gluten-free and a low carb food. Although kelp is full of vitamins and minerals like any food it should be eaten in moderation.

Although kelp is not a food commonly found in diets in the United States, it should be! With its high nutritional value it’s a great addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Eating fresh, unprocessed foods is an easy step in ways to include disease prevention and weight control into your day. Healthy meal plans should include an assortment of fresh fruits & vegetables, whole-grains, lean meats, fish, and other fresh, unprocessed foods, including kelp. Choosing organic food is another easy way to add to your healthy lifestyle.